Cody Kessler’s injury raises plenty of new questions for Eagles

Cody Kessler’s injury raises plenty of new questions for Eagles

JACKSONVILLE — It seems like the Eagles might need to sign another quarterback. 

Doug Pederson on Thursday night was not ready to make that admission. 

“We’ll evaluate Cody (Kessler) again tomorrow and over the weekend,” Pederson said. “We’re going to get through the next few days, we’re going to evaluate everything. Obviously, really excited for Clayton (Thorson), getting a lot of time. We’re just going to evaluate where we are and make a decision as we go.”

Just a couple hours earlier, Pederson watched his backup quarterback go down for the second time in two weeks. After Nate Sudfeld broke his wrist in the first preseason game, this time it was Kessler who went down with a concussion early in Thursday night’s 24-10 preseason win at TIAA Bank Field. 

Kessler was pummeled on a blindside hit by Datone Jones in the first quarter and was taken off the field for evaluation. Pederson intimated the hit was Kessler’s fault, that he should have seen the pressure coming and delivered the football earlier. 

In any case, the Eagles will be back at practice Sunday and now have just two healthy quarterbacks: Carson Wentz and Thorson. 

Pederson was asked if they needed to have three quarterbacks heading into a new week of practice. He said they don’t. 

“We can get by with the two guys,” he said. “It does put a little more load on both of those guys. Until we can evaluate Cody further, we’re not ruling him out until we evaluate him.” 

Kessler is now in the concussion protocol. While every concussion is different, it’s rare that a player is able to return from a concussion in one week’s time. So if the Eagles don’t plan on playing Wentz much or at all in the third preseason game, that would leave them with just Thorson. 

That might force the Eagles to sign a quarterback, but it won’t even answer the biggest question that is still lingering: 

Have the Eagles seen enough of Kessler to go into the season with him as the backup until Sudfeld heals? 

“It’s still early,” Pederson said. “Obviously, this is what the preseason is for, to give these guys some opportunity. We still have a couple games left and we’re going to do our due diligence to make sure we see enough of everybody at every position to make educated decisions at the end.” 

But there’s a chance Kessler’s concussion could force him to miss one or both remaining preseason games. Will he still be their best option to back up Wentz in Week 1? 

Adding another twist in this whole situation is that Thorson actually played well on Thursday night. What if he plays well the rest of the preseason? Would the Eagles tab the rookie fifth-rounder as the backup? Would they be too worried to try to sneak him through waivers and to the practice squad?

That means this could set up a situation where the Eagles are forced to keep four quarterbacks on their roster going into Week 1. 

These injuries have not changed Pederson’s mind about his plan for Wentz. 

“We’re going to get some great work with Baltimore coming into town,” Pederson said. “The plan has always been to really push the starters in practice and make sure they’re prepared there.”

There’s a lot of angst in Philly about the backup quarterback position, but it could all eventually be moot if Wentz stays on the field. That’s the plan anyway. But with two weeks left in the preseason, there are still plenty of questions about the backup job and not much time for answers.

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Eagle Eye podcast: A huge extension for Brandon Brooks

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Eagle Eye podcast: A huge extension for Brandon Brooks

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro react to Brandon Brooks’ four-year extension worth over $56 million. 

Brooks will go down as one of the best free agent pickups in Eagles history. Jordan Matthews is back yet again. The receivers could definitely use some help. The secondary looks a little more solid. 

The Eagles find themselves in a good position after the bye.

• Brandon Brooks gets an extension
• Jordan Matthews x3 
• Yes, we’re talking about WRs again 
• The division is there for the taking 
• A look at the secondary down the stretch
• Everyone have a good bye week? 

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Eagles sign Brandon Brooks to 4-year contract extension

Eagles sign Brandon Brooks to 4-year contract extension

The Eagles on Monday locked up all-pro guard Brandon Brooks with a contract extension that runs through 2024 and makes him the highest-paid guard in the NFL.

The 30-year-old Brooks, who has made a remarkable recovery from Achilles surgery, was already signed through 2020. The new deal runs from 2021 through 2024.

According to AthletesFirst, the agency that represents Brooks, the deal is worth $56.2 million over four years.

That $14.05 million annual average makes Brooks the highest-paid guard in the NFL, just ahead of Zach Martin of the Cowboys, whose six-year, $84 million deal signed last year is worth $14 million per year.

Brooks had been signed through 2020 with base salaries of $8 million this year and $7.5 million next year on his original five-year, $40 million deal with the Eagles.

Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland said Brooks is having the best year of his career.

I see a locked in guy,” Stoutland said. “I see a guy that’s just zoned in on what he’s doing from each play. I’m very, very happy with his production, with his level of execution and all the technique that we’re teaching him, he applies it all. He’s a smart man.

Brooks suffered a torn Achilles on Jan. 13 during the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints at the Superdome.

But he returned to practice the week before the opener and hasn’t missed a step. After playing 54 of a possible 74 snaps in the opener against the Redskins — he rested late in the game once the Eagles had a double-digit lead — he’s played all 564 snaps in the last eight games at right guard.

What’s stood out about Brooks’ miracle recovery?

The way he just embraced that whole situation and fought through all the adversity and came back with such a positive attitude,” Stoutland said Monday. “I never once saw him down in the tank, worrying about him or ‘why me?’ or any of that. … The approach he had was always positive and, ‘My mission is to get back for that first game,’ and he was able to do that. He’s having the best season of his life right now. It’s a credit to him, it’s well-deserved. He’s a tremendous member of our team. Unbelievable attitude. I love the way he prepares and most especially the way he performs on Sunday.

Brooks, Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Kelce are the only players to start all 46 games the Eagles have played since opening day of 2017.

Brooks initially joined the Eagles in 2016 as a free agent from the Texans, and quickly emerged as one of the greatest free agent signings in franchise history.

He made his first two Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018 in his sixth and seventh NFL seasons and is on track to make a third straight.

No guard in Eagles history has ever made three Pro Bowls. Brooks, Shawn Andrews and Evan Mathis each made three.

The Eagles now have 26 players under contract through 2021, 14 through 2022 and five through 2023. Brooks is the only player on the roster signed through 2024.

On the offensive line, Isaac Seumalo and Andre Dillard are signed through 2022 and Lane Johnson and Kelce through 2021.

Jason Peters and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are currently due to become unrestricted free agents after this season.

Among those under contract through at least 2021 are Carson Wentz, Miles Sanders, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Malik Jackson, Avonte Maddox and T.J. Edwards.

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